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Woman's slender right arm extended out

Arm Lift

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St. Luke’s brachioplasty surgeons are among the Lehigh Valley’s most skilled and experienced. Our providers are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, having completed extensive training that leads to a rigorous certification process. And due to our large network of over 12 hospital sites, we have access to the latest technology. These resources allow us to perform minimally invasive procedures with results you can be proud of.  

What is an arm lift?

An arm lift–or a brachioplasty–improves the underside of your upper arm. During this procedure, your surgeon will start by removing arm fat and arm skin from your elbow area to your armpit. Then, they’ll position the remaining skin to create a more toned appearance. 

An arm lift uses underarm skin removal to address sagging skin due to aging, weight loss, or genetics. If you also want underarm fat removal, you’ll need liposuction as well. But liposuction can be performed during your arm lift so that your procedure is minimally invasive. 

If you want to learn more about arm reduction surgery—or schedule a consultation with an arm lift surgeon in the Lehigh Valley—then contact St. Luke’s Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.


Brachioplasty candidates include adults with the following characteristics:

  • Excess upper arm skin
  • Upper arm skin laxity
  • A healthy, stable weight

Individuals of all shapes and sizes can face sagging upper arm skin–including thinner or younger adults. So when regular exercise and strength training doesn’t help you lose underarm fat, this procedure may be your next step. 

Schedule a consultation with a St. Luke’s arm lift surgeon in the Lehigh Valley to determine if an arm lift is right for you.

Having an arm lift can result in numerous benefits—including underarm skin removal—and positively impact your wellbeing. The following list includes some of the most commonly reported benefits:

  • Smoother tissue under the arm
  • Improved body image after weight loss
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Improved tone with minimal scarring

An arm lift can dramatically improve your body image and give you a more youthful appearance. It can reshape the upper arm’s supportive tissue and eliminate skin that has lost elasticity.

As with all surgeries, an arm lift has risks. Some of them include the following:

  • Fluid buildup
  • Damage to nerves
  • Numbness
  • Permanent unfavorable scarring
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Muscle, blood vessel, or nerve damage
  • Fatty tissue death
  • Changes in skin sensation
  • Infection

Your surgeon will review a complete list of risks before getting your consent.

Before the procedure

In the time leading up to your arm lift at St. Luke’s Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, you can take steps to make your procedure as safe as possible. These include discussing the following topics at your surgical consultation:

  • Goals and expectations
  • Surgical options
  • Results
  • Recovery

As part of your consultation, your surgeon will also do a complete evaluation—which may include the following items:

  • Ordering lab work
  • Taking “before” photos for comparison
  • Assessing medical conditions, allergies, and medical limitations
  • Reviewing medications, supplements, alcohol, tobacco, or drug use 

A week before the procedure, you can prepare at home in the following ways:

  • Filling outstanding prescriptions
  • Purchasing any medical supplies as needed
  • Coordinating transportation and meals as needed
  • Staying hydrated

You should arrive early on the day of your procedure to avoid travel delays.

During the procedure

Your surgeon will work with you to determine the best type of procedure to achieve your desired results. Arm lift surgery lasts one to three hours, and you’ll typically return home the same day. An arm lift can contour and shape your upper arm by removing excess skin.

Traditional brachioplasty

With a traditional brachioplasty, your surgeon will remove excess skin by making an incision from your underarm to your elbow (along the inside of your upper arm). You can also have underarm liposuction in conjunction with brachioplasty. Though traditional brachioplasty results in a long scar, this arm lift is ideal if you want to remove a large amount of excess skin.

Minimal-incision brachioplasty (”invisible” arm lift)

With a minimal-incision brachioplasty, your surgeon will remove excess skin by making an incision from your underarm to your elbow (on the underside of your upper arm). An invisible arm lift is ideal if you have a small amount of excess skin and good skin elasticity. As a result of the incision’s placement, the scar will be less visible.

Extended brachioplasty

With an extended brachioplasty, your surgeon will remove excess underarm and chest skin. Your incision will be the same one used in a traditional brachioplasty—but it will extend onto your chest wall. This procedure is ideal if you have large amounts of excess skin on your upper arms and chest.

After the procedure

As a result of your arm skin removal, your arms will have tighter contours almost immediately. Note that the results may be obscured by swelling and bruising–and there will be a scar from the incision. But compression garments will help to minimize swelling and support the healing process.

Due to the aging process, some minor sagging may occur. However, an arm lift is a relatively permanent procedure. You should maintain a stable weight and stay in shape to maximize your results.

Your St. Luke’s plastic surgeon will customize your procedure based on your desired treatment results. The typical recovery milestones include the following: 

  • One to three days after surgery: Your arms will be bandaged and wrapped, limiting your range of motion. Additionally, you may have small tubes placed in your arms to drain excess fluid or blood. In case your hands swell, you should avoid wearing rings and other jewelry on your hands. Your surgeon will recommend compression garments to minimize swelling during healing. And to manage pain—which will be light to moderate—you can take either prescribed medications or over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. 
  • One week after surgery: Your pain will have subsided, so you shouldn’t need pain medication. Your swelling and bruising should be decreasing, but it will take two to three weeks to be gone entirely. 
  • Ten days after surgery: You’ll have your stitches, bandages, and drainage tubes removed. As a result, your arm mobility will increase—but you should still avoid heavy lifting and other activities that put stress on your arms. You can resume work and light daily activities. 
  • Two weeks after surgery: You’ll start your scar therapy plan to minimize scarring during the healing process. This plan may consist of a scar cream or a silicone-based tape product.
  • Four to six weeks after surgery: Your swelling and bruising should be gone, so you won’t need to wear compression garments. You’ll be able to resume all daily activities—including heavy lifting and exercise routines.
  • Six months after surgery: Your scars should start to blend in with the surrounding skin. This process will continue for up to two years.